As reported in the Washington Times and by Border Action Network, Cochise County rancher Roger Barnett was found responsible yesterday for $78,000 worth of actual and punitive damages for assault and infliction of emotional distress on a group of undocumented immigrants, illegal aliens, or whatever you'd like to call them, sneaking across his property. He was found not liable for most everything else, including giving a young woman a few gratuitous kicks (battery) and false imprisonment.
At first glance, if you're not familiar with Barnett's history, this looks like the following: A rancher suffers damages due to a Federal immigration system which doesn't match market needs and a Border Patrol that has diverted immigration of those without visas from the highways to ranches--a confusing mix of state trust land and private property. His fences are cut, gates are left open, his cattle have occasionally choked on bottles. He finds a group trespassing, and not being a lawyer or an educated man he violates the law a few times, perhaps inadvertently, while waiting for the Border Patrol and now finds himself being sued for millions of dollars. "Aw shucks--I didn't know that was 'false imprisonment', why, I've never heard of false imprisonment!--I'm just trying to make a living off the land."
But this is no innocent rube. This is Roger Barnett. The same Roger Barnett who assaulted a hunting party and came a squeeze of the trigger away from murdering Ron Morales for being someplace he and his companions had a right to be. He's seen a courtroom before. He's broken the law before and paid for it. He ought to know better but, apparently out of self-righteousness, continues to disregard the state's use-of-force laws, and the Cochise County Attorney is too chicken to prosecute. And I get the impression the jury was given his history. Perhaps we see today why successive County Attornies don't bother to prosecute--the juries are such a bunch of simpletons that "them 'criminals' had it comin' because they didn't get visas" could be at work. It's certainly at work in the blogosphere. Forget due process, forget rule of law, it's all black and white, really, and will only become colorful when the Barnett actually shoots the next Ron Morales. But that's one of those Mexicans who's "diluting our culture" so he must have it coming, too. Blood and soil, now and forever. Self-defense against "diseases" and Spanish.
Very hard to not be cynical in light of this result. It doesn't take much for Cro-Magnon tribal instincts to overwhelm American liberal traditions.
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